Here’s what you’re missing

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Yesterday’s visitor stats for the blog show a nice spread of my posts, from top ranking piece on CBA vs ROI, to the advantages of the Tesla Roadster (with a few Bond references thrown in for good measure).

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Yesterday

How to hit a target with a ball without actually throwing it!

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See the scene from 28 Days when baseball star Eddie gives Gwen (Sandra Bullock, Hollywood’s best paid actress in 2014) a lesson on how to hit the target – focus on getting yourself ready – rather than just trying to hit the target. It’s the key to success. As I couldn’t find a movie clip with the spoken lines, here’s the script from the scene between Eddie and Gwen:

What are you doing?
Great. Another thing l suck at.
Well, hold on. Gwen, hey.
Please.
Come here a second.
-What?
-What were you thinking about?
When you threw the ball,
what were you thinking about?
l don’t know. The mating habits
of African ants. l don’t know.
The striped thing.
You were thinking about
hitting the mattress.
Well, you know, it might sound funny
to you, but that’s all wrong.
When you lock in on the strike zone…
…it’s looking about
the size of a peanut.
And you think, ”Damn. l gotta get
that little ball in there?”
You’ve psyched yourself
right out of the game.
The strike zone, the call…
…the count, the batter,
forget all that.
You gotta think about the little
things. The things you can control.
You can control your stance,
your balance…
…your release, your follow-through.
Think about those little things
and only those little things….
You know? l mean….
Because when you let go of the ball…
…it’s over.
You don’t have a say in what happens.
That’s somebody else’s job.
-l want you to try this.
-l don’t want to.
l’m just curious.
-l don’t want to do it.
-l just want to see how you hold it.
Don’t grab it, don’t grab it.
Look at it, look at it.
Hold it like an egg.
Loose. Easy. All right?
Let me get a look at it
from over there.
Let me get a look at it
from over there.
All right.
l want you to throw it over here
nice and easy.
Point at me with your left hand.
Throw it where you’re pointing at.
Better. But you nutted the batter…
…and the other team’s beating
the crap out of you.
Try again. Heads up.
l want you to do it again.
This time, shut your eyes.
-What?
-Just shut your eyes.
-So weird.
-Fire away.
Right there.
That is a strike in any country.

What’s your MacGuffin?

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A point worth making about MacGuffin that sets it apart from the normal movie review is that its designed for ppl who love movie trivia who spot trivia and want to share that trivia. For eg in the famous action film North by Northwest my MacGuffin spot is that Cary Grant stays in the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago (now called The Public Chicago Hotel), as I have by sheer luck stayed there myself. Try it with Django. Find the trivial which for you is your MacGuffin;-)

What’s your secret sauce?

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Two connected questions for any #startup (1) what customer need does your product meet? (2) what’s your secret sauce in meeting that need?

I know the answers to both questions for the MacGuffin app for example. As MacGuffin is not simply for movie reviews, it’s for self-expression, it’s designed to enable people to share their feelings directly after watching a movie in a direct accessible way.

And connected with that my secret sauce is my #thinslicing approach to identifying that opportunity, coupled with an understanding of user psychology which drives my determination to make it succeed. That’s unique to me.

Bug finder general, eBay style

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I like to joke about my #thinslicing abilities, the idea I am good a finding a needle in a haystack. But it’s difficult scientifically to prove such a talent, as it so easily looks like luck/coincidence. For example I stumbled across a bug today trying to buy some earplugs on eBay which meant I was unable to pay for the item with PayPal, a real pain-point if it’s widespread. Then again I have done a little bug testing in-house for eBay before so maybe..

Peter Krantz 16:03:38
Welcome to eBay Live Help, my name is Peter. How may I be of assistance?

stuartg699 16:05:20
Hi yes I have a problem with payment – when I go to pay using PayPal I am returned to the review order page. I tried this twice and this happened twice.

Peter Krantz 16:07:31
Have you tried to clear cache and cookies to make sure that there is no outdated information in your account.

stuartg699 16:07:55
I will try that, thank you Peter.

Peter Krantz 16:08:41
Is there anything else that I can assist you with?

stuartg699 16:09:35
Yes, I tried that and got an error message on PayPal – Message 3005 – temporary difficulties are being experienced. I hope that was helpful:-)

Peter Krantz 16:11:30
I will just need a moment while I check this for you.

stuartg699 16:12:20
Thanks

Peter Krantz 16:12:54
I’ve looked into it and it looks like there’s a technical problem with our site right now. I’ve forwarded your information to our technical team so that we can resolve it as soon as possible.

stuartg699 16:14:38
OK, cool, thanks Peter.

Peter Krantz 16:15:01
Thank you for contacting eBay Live Help, have a good afternoon Stuart.

Thinslicing joke, otherwise lost to the world

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Phew, just found my  joke I contributed to the xs4all Science Jokes site wayback in March 2001. Now it looks like a joke about #thinslicing, in part because it includes concepts borrowed from my travels – heterogeneous organisation of data – comes from talking to a group of computer scientists at a First Tuesday meeting in 2000:

Q: How do you find a needle in a haystack?

Scientist says: One draws up a research and development proposal for a new
and improved device, costing $100m in budget and just under $200m on final
completion. The device can harvest for needles in any given haystack in any
terrain at any time, and operated by remote or even hands-on control.

Chaotician says: Faced with such a heterogeneous organisation of data you
assemble a bunch of friends (say ten or less, or maybe more if there is free
alcohol) and hold a party on the haystack. Someone will be bound to find the
needle by stepping or sitting on it. Or if they don’t something much more
strange + interesting will appear, so that the needle is classified as a
variant hay-straw. And the new discovery classified as the strange attractor.

 

Want a practical complexity heuristic?

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There you go, click on the pic for the three tweet answer, thanks.

Beware: this is not ‘top level’ thinking. This is a heuristic.

PS: I came up with all this a day after staring in to the sky whilst waiting for the morning minibus to Sony in Weybridge – and after tweeting about a strange line in the sky – by chance stumbled on the origin of the phrase ‘Occam’s Razor’ which is relevant to the design of heuristics: “One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.”

The answer to my question – ‘Ockham Stack’ (see Q & A below with @CoxeyLoxey) – is named after the village in Surrey where William of Ockham, the guy who coined the phrase Occam’s Razor, came from. So hope that didn’t increase beyond what’s necessary, the # entities required to explain it!

Fun social dating mobile game

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Title of the app: Late to Date?

Elevator pitch – the clock is ticking:

  • A mobile app where guess if your date is going to be late or on time.
  • Win points (like spread betting) depending how close you are, either early or late.
  • Works for both men and women to play:-)
  • Win more points the further away in the future you guess your date will arrive! So few points if you guess they are only 5 minutes away..
  • To avoid gaming through social learning points start to decrease the more regularly accurate you are!
  • Points increase again though if you switch to fractions of a minute to make your bet – then you’re in ‘date heaven’.
  • Promote the app with a community dedicated to tips for your first date, tales of dating hell and dating heaven.

OK, so maybe I am being a bit tongue in cheek but it shows there are plenty of everyday offline activities which can be turned into a potentially fun social mobile game just waiting to be developed.

More Google Street View fun

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East Bond Street, frontviewPhoto by Stuart Glendinning Hall
East Bond Street, backviewPhoto by Stuart Glendinning Hall

Yep, it’s a mother and daughter combination from the front up close, and then from the back, in the distance!